Daniel Lambert has announced that his business will be partially relocating to France, as the drinks industry is faced with high import declaration charges following Brexit.

Known for his advocacy on the matter, Lambert has frequently spoken out against the “very serious” impact of Brexit on the drinks industry. While the company will still be “fully operational” in the UK, Lambert has plans to move a portion of operations to Montpellier, France.

He explained the “barriers to trade” caused by the UK’s departure from the EU.

“Brokers are being able to charge what they like and SMEs have been at the mercy of this,” he said, noting that import declarations can often cost between £85 – £175.

“I would say these declarations are free to do, with the exception of the person being employed to do them –  I’ve calculated what it costs my business, and in my opinion, each declaration shouldn’t cost more than £15 or £20.”

This has put what Lambert described as a “massive strain” on small to medium businesses. 

“This is a very serious issue for the industry because every single import that comes into this country is paying fees that don’t need to pay, which is causing inflation in the market that doesn’t need to be there.”

As he is a French national, Lambert has been able to relocate, leaving him in a position where he will be able to “effectively import and export in and out of the EU within my own company and not be tarried by any of the Brexit related paperwork costs”, as all paperwork will be done in-house. He said that the move will keep “improving the service” of Daniel Lambert Wines by avoiding additional costs for consumers. 

“By setting up in France, I am mitigating all of these declaration charges,” said Lambert. “So by having a French entity, I’ll have a French EORI number, and I’ll do the MRNs [movement reference numbers] myself.”

“Following Brexit, the EMCS [excise movement and control system] has to be used until goods exit the UK, and that system can only clear that movement with an MRN barcode”, he explained, as agents have been left “paying on every single consignment, whether it be one pallet or a container – every single importer to the UK will be paying this declaration charge to exit goods from the EU”.

And while importers can register as a bonded warehouse, Lambert found the process took around seven months, making it difficult for new agencies to do so.

Reflecting on the “dire situation”, Lambert is concerned that Brexit will reduce diversity in the drinks industry as registration costs have left it “physically impossible” for SMEs to establish themselves. 

“What Brexit is doing is killing that diversity and it’s not allowing newness into the market. That’s very dangerous for the drinks industry as a whole as it’s left almost inaccessible, and we all need to fight to change this.”